- The Washington Times - Friday, July 15, 2016

University of Houston President Renu Khator has reaffirmed the school’s commitment to free speech following calls for the resignation of a student government executive who declared “All Lives Matter.”

Students began a social media campaign to #RemoveRohini after Student Body Vice President Rohini Sethi wrote on Facebook, “Forget #BlackLivesMatter; more like #AllLivesMatter,” hours after Micah Xavier Johnson fatally shot five police officers in Dallas. A petition seeking Ms. Rohini’s ouster over the “insensitive” comment garnered more than 600 signatures, Campus Reform reported.

In an email Thursday to students and faculty, Ms. Khator said the university remained committed to “free and open expression” and that ideological disagreements are simply a byproduct of “constructive dialogue.”

“[The Student Government Association] has always been ‘of the students, by the students and for the students’ and UH’s system of shared governance does not allow administrative intervention in SGA,” Ms. Khator wrote, Campus Reform reported. “Having said that, it is our responsibility to maintain a culture of inclusion in which all voices are heard and constructive discourse is not only protected, but also encouraged.”

“The University and I stand firm on the values of diversity, inclusion, and unity. But differences of opinion are the natural byproduct of such discourse, and UH remains committed to the principles of free and open expression,” the email read. “Ultimately, universities bring empowerment through education and understanding,” she continued, urging students “to engage in respectful discussion, behavior, and activities regarding this matter and all such issues. Listening leads to understanding, understanding leads to acceptance and acceptance leads to change.”

Ms. Sethi took to Facebook earlier this week to apologize for how her comment was interpreted.

“Visually we are black, white, tan, and a hundred shades between but we are all human, thus I believe that all lives matter,” she wrote. “Our community is the most diverse in the nation, and we should cherish the lesson that teaches us. I hope to embrace language that binds us together rather than language that singles some out.”

Matthew Wiltshire, an associate justice on the SGA’s high court, resigned to protest the attempted silencing of Ms. Sethi, Campus Reform reported.

“The leaders of BLM on our campus, either through reckless abandon or purposeful calculation, have gotten the media involved in a way that is sure to create negative press for Rohini in particular,” he said. “The end result is that an anonymous crowd will attempt to destroy the career and future livelihood of a good person.”

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